The Political Economy Of Domain Names

October 25, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

In a wider article about how a fixed internet landscape translates poorly into a world of fluid international borders, Rosie Cima had some fascinating bits of information about famous domain suffixes such as “.ly” or “.me”:

  • Countries are able to make money from domain names ending with certain letters. For example .uk is overseen by the United Kingdom, .jp by Japan, and .se by Sweden.
  • This can be lucrative. Tuvalu, a country, managed to get .tv assigned to it. The country now makes $2.2 million a year from websites ending with .tv – 10% of the government’s budget.
  • Montenegro got .me and has made $15 million since 2006. Facebook, for example, owns
  • .io belongs to the British Indian Ocean territory and is expected to do well because it’s memorable, and is an area under stable British rule.
  • Unstable countries can create complexities. .sy belongs to Syria. After western countries imposed sanctions on the country during its ongoing civil war, companies paying the government for that domain such as were found to be violating those sanctions.
  • Similarly, .ly which belongs to Libya, and is used by several major websites such as, has been a mess since Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown. Not only were sanctions imposed for a while, there are now two competing governments who claim to be in charge.

The full article focuses on Libya’s experience, websites that have had troubles because of their domain names, some of the ethical questions that the domains raise, and a broader history of the internet. You should read it here.

Source: Priceonomics